Wednesday, July 13, 2011

They came, they saw, they paddled

MEC Paddlefest 2011 has come and gone, and if I could do anything differently, I think I would have tried to get there earlier. 

Paddlefest 2011: a celebration of paddling.

That's because there was just so much to do, and not enough time to do it in. That's on me, of course; I didn't allow enough time.

Note to self: get there before noon next time...

 As soon as we arrived, it was off to yoga for paddlers, an hour of stretching and breathing exercises guaranteed to get you limbered up for stretching.

That was barely done, and then it was time to climb into a voyageur canoe, and paddle out into the waters of English Bay with David Wooldridge of Ridge Wilderness Adventures.

Dave Woolridge solos a voyageur canoe.

We paddled, we laughed, we got wet - in other words we had fun.

That mini-journey completed, we were off to see a demonstration of backwoods cooking, put on by Ryan Masson of Silva Bay Kayak Adventures. He showed us how to cook some very tasty coconut shrimp on a griddle on a Coleman stove. It came served up with some tomato-peach-cilantro salsa. Yummy! He also baked up some foccacia beer bread - also on an outdoor stove.

No time to spend too much of the day eating, though ...

Back to the water. Time for some stand-up paddling lessons with Coreena Fletcher of SUP Vancouver.

Coreena Fletcher makes it look easy on a stand-up paddleboard,
as she provides pointers to novice SUP participants.

It's harder than it looks, especially when it's a bit breezy, and a bit choppy. Lots of skill, good balance and core strength are required to participate in this type of paddling. I don't know if I'm ready to give up sitting in a kayak or kneeling in a canoe to take up this activity...but it's becoming hugely popular in the paddling world. There's even a magazine or two devoted strictly to the sport of standup paddling.

A 90-minute kayaking course for those new to the sport followed that, although with 20 years of experience sea kayaking in places like Belize, the Florida Everglades, Grand Cayman Island, the Bay of Fundy N.B. and Desolation Sound B.C., I opted to pass on that one. I watched a bit of it, as Georgia Campbell of Ecomarine put the newbie paddlers through their paces.

Georgia Campbell of Ecomarine Kayak Centre
teaches an intro kayaking course.

I did get a chance to check out some of the gear MEC had on display, including mini-dry bags for equipment like iPhones. Unfortunately, they're made for iPhones without the protective rubber casing, so I'm hoping next year, the company will come out with a product that will be a bit bigger.

I'm always fumbling for my iPhone to take pictures and videos while paddling, but it's awkward and time consuming. Having a quick-and-easy protector for it would certainly make things easier.

Other than taking time to chat with a few of the exhibitors like CPAWS and enter a few draws for some trips and a brand new kayak, that was the day. It was gone before I could blink, and I didn't quite find time to do everything I would have liked to.

Next year, I'm going to set my alarm for 7 a.m. instead of 8 ... 

(For additional images from Paddlefest 2011, check out my photo album on Facebook at )

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